Anna Gazmarian’s essay “Sins of the Mother” [February 2023] hit close to home. Like Gazmarian, I, too, struggled with religion growing up. I was expected to be the good Catholic boy, but when I was in tenth grade, I asked too many questions in religion class and was told to leave. I worried I might die before repenting my sins and that I would spend eternity burning in hell. (What a loving God.)
Fifty years later I’ve come to think most religions are just a way to control and diminish people. I have no idea what’s on the other side of death, but I have learned to be a humanitarian and treat people with kindness even if I disagree with them. I live in Colorado, surrounded by canyons, and I find peace among the rocks and trees. Nature is my church.
I appreciate Anna Gazmarian’s candid reflections about how a Christian upbringing can really mess with a kid’s head. The essay reminded me of how, as a child, I was haunted by the idea of eternal damnation. I often prayed to God that I wouldn’t die abruptly, because I wanted the chance to beg for forgiveness in my last moments.
I also connected with the author’s parental anxieties. My wife and I are considering parenthood, and I am unsure how to frame the world for a child, especially because the frame I was given — Catholicism — did so much damage.
Joseph Johnston’s photo essay about unhoused people [“On the Streets of San Francisco,” February 2023] moved and educated me more than words could. Looking into the eyes of the people in the photographs, I could imagine their stories and see their humanity.
We like George Carlin’s humor, brashness, and irreverence. But his suggestion that golf courses should be used to end homelessness was an inappropriate quote to include in your February 2023 Sunbeams.
Golf courses are not wasted spaces, and golf is not a “meaningless, mindless activity engaged in primarily by white, well-to-do male businessmen,” as Carlin says. It is a sport of skill and coordination practiced by people of all ages, abilities, and genders. Most golf is played at public and municipal golf courses that serve as green spaces in cities and small towns. Golf courses provide an opportunity for folks from all walks of life to exercise and practice sports etiquette in a parklike setting among friends. There are better spaces to house the homeless.
I was tickled by the letter from Emily Kanter in the February 2023 Correspondence. Now that she is the “tender age of thirty-seven,” she writes, her father says she must purchase her own Sun subscription. I am forty-nine and still receiving a subscription paid for by my dad. He started sending it to me when I left for college thirty years ago. I’m grateful to him and The Sun for all these years of comfort.
My February 2023 Sun came in a white cover, announcing it was a gift. I didn’t need to look to know from whom. My father has been giving me the magazine for decades. So I grinned when I read Emily Kanter’s letter. By her father’s standards I should have been cut off long ago.
I started reading my dad’s copies of The Sun when I was a teenager, and my gift subscription began when I was in my twenties, fumbling my way toward a life path. That gift has followed me all these years, through the tough decade of my thirties, with babies and a hard marriage; through my forties, full of the joys and sorrows of divorce; and now into my fifties, when I am finally content with what is. Through it all, I’ve read The Sun every month. I was even quoted in its pages when my father’s poem “Baptism” was published in March 2020 [Howard Nelson]. Thanks for helping me know myself.
Since my daughter married a person of color and had a child, I have become more aware of the atrocities committed against minorities, especially Black people. I have always known racism and discrimination were wrong, but growing up in an all-white Midwestern farming community in the 1960s and ’70s, I did not personally know any Black people.
I love my son-in-law and granddaughter. They are my family, and I want to better understand their experience. Ama Codjoe’s beautiful essay [“An Aspect of Freedom,” January 2023] gave me a glimpse of what it feels like to be a person of color in America.
James Carroll’s January 2023 cover photo is mesmerizing. Half the frame is out of focus, and only a third of the subject’s face is showing, yet the image is stunning. Thank you for recognizing the beauty of this shot.
I started reading The Sun in December 2013, when a neighbor loaned me an issue. I remember the cover image [by Nina Marie Ventra] clearly: a radiant couple kissing. I was in my early thirties and had just met my husband — a beloved chapter of my life. Now I have an eye on the January 2023 issue while I nurse my newborn son and help my five-year-old daughter build with Legos. I aspire to publish my writing in The Sun someday. In the meantime I am grateful to have the magazine with me on my journey through life.
Before I subscribed to The Sun, I’d read only one Brian Doyle work: an essay titled “Something past Justice,” published in the Spring 2014 issue of Notre Dame Magazine. I adore that piece and reread it frequently. So when I occasionally see Doyle’s name in The Sun’s table of contents, my heart always races a bit. But I have never encountered anything as wonderful as “Something past Justice.” Until now. “Mister Kim” [Dog-Eared Page, January 2023] is a grand slam. What a gift. God willing, I’ll be rereading this one, too, for years.
Michal Jones’s story in Readers Write on “Changing Your Mind” [December 2022] struck a chord with me. She was given the same advice about not seeing her newborn child that I received in 1970, when I relinquished my infant daughter for adoption. Unlike Jones, I didn’t have the courage to resist. Because all adoptions were closed then, it took me fifty years — and DNA research — to find my daughter. Every mother who gives a child up should have the opportunity to say goodbye as Jones so bravely did.
Your November 2022 Readers Write on “Tools” reminded me of a time many years ago when I lived with a roommate in a duplex on a Georgia-coast island. We had a small TV that was missing the dials, so we used pliers to change the channels and tweezers to adjust the volume. To turn it off, we just unplugged it.
The wiring in that old house was so mixed up that the stove wouldn’t work unless my bedroom light was switched on. When we had an electrician come to take a look, he pulled out the stove, put it back in place, and said, “I’m not touching that.”
I am an eighty-year-old retired psychiatrist. I enjoy so much about The Sun, but Readers Write is my favorite. I’m moved by the stories of joy, sadness, and struggle. A patient of mine once said, “My burden is heavy, but when I share it with others, it is a little easier to bear.” What a wonderful gift The Sun is giving to writers and readers alike.
A nurse I worked with in Albuquerque, New Mexico, once told me never to dawdle on the “throne.” Toilet seats stretch rectums, and if you sit too long, small tears can form and lead to hemorrhoids. So, all you Sun lovers, I know how exciting it is to find a new issue in your mailbox, but listen to the wise nurse from Albuquerque. Resist the urge: don’t read The Sun on the toilet.